[comments by Father Z]
Elie Wiesel attacks pope over Holocaust bishop [What a dreadful title]
Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:33am EST
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict has given credence to "the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism" by rehabilitating a Holocaust-denying bishop, said Elie Wiesel, the death camp survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Wiesel also said there was no way the Vatican could have not known about the bishop’s past and it may have been done "intentionally." [Of course the lifting of the excomm was "intentional". But the issue of the excommunication didn’t have anything at all to do with denying the Holocaust. Now… I can understand that a survivor of a deathcamp would be upset at a man who denies the extent of the massacre of Jews in WWII… but does it even sound rational to keep a man in the state of excommunication incurred for one thing because you don’t like his ideas about something entirely unrated?]
"What does the pope think we feel when he did that? [The issue of feelings aside, and I don’t deny that feelings are important, I think the Pope must have assumed that people would be able to reason through the move. He did the same with the famous Regensburg Address. He assumed that smart people would overcome their initial reaction to see what the point was.] That a man who is a bishop and Holocaust denier—and today of course the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism is Holocaust denial—and for the pope to go that far and do what he did, knowing what he knows, is disturbing," Wiesel said by telephone from New York.
"The result of this move is very simple: to give credence to a man who is a Holocaust denier, [I deny the premise: I don’t think that lifting the censure gives credence to any of Williamson’s ideas about anything not having to do with the Church. I don’t think Pope Benedict’s move increased Williamson’s worldwide prestige in the field of Jewish Studies or among historians or even people with a basic reading level.] which means that the sensitivity to us as Jews is not what it should be," he said late Tuesday. [Yah? And their sensitivity to us as Catholics isn’t either. And, by the by when will the relentless and baseless attacks on Pius XII stop?]
Speaking at his general audience Wednesday, the pope reaffirmed his "full and unquestionable solidarity with Jews," condemned the "pitiless killing of millions of Jews" and said the Holocaust should remain a warning against "denial."
British-born Richard Williamson, one of four traditionalist bishops whose excommunications were lifted Saturday, has made several statements denying the full extent of the Holocaust of European Jews, as accepted by mainstream historians.
Williamson told Swedish television in an interview broadcast a week ago: "I believe there were no gas chambers" and only up to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million.
His interview, taped in November, caused an uproar among Jewish leaders and progressive Catholics, many of whom said it had cast a dark shadow over 50 years of Christian-Jewish dialogue.
"It’s a pity because Jewish-Catholic relations, thanks to John XXIII and John Paul II, had never been as good, never in history," Wiesel said, referring to the popes who revolutionized relations with Jews after 2,000 years of mistrust.
VATICAN "HAD TO KNOW"
Asked if he believed it was possible that the Vatican did not know that Williamson was a Holocaust denier, Wiesel, who won the Nobel in 1986 and survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald, said:
"Oh no! The Church knows what it does, especially on that level for the pope to readmit this man, they know what they are doing. They know what they are doing and they did it intentionally. What the intention was, I don’t know." [He doesn’t know, but he is suggesting that it was a bad intention.]
Since the furor over the pope’s decision to lift the excommunication, the Vatican has condemned Williamson’s comments as "grave, upsetting (and) unacceptable," restating the Church’s—and Benedict’s—teachings against anti-Semitism.
Wiesel said he could not offer the Vatican any advice on how to put things right with Jews but something had to be done.
"The Vatican created the situation. [hmmmm] It’s up to them to resolve it. As it is, it is a very sad situation. So unexpected because we had high hopes for the relations between Jews and Catholics because they had been so good under those two popes … and now it’s the opposite," said the 80-year-old. [So, what… now they have the opposite of what… of high hopes? Do they now deep despair?]
Wiesel recounted his experiences in death camps in the book "Night." Asked what the controversy meant to him personally as a survivor, he said: "Puzzlement, shock, and immense sadness."
Tuesday, Williamson’s superior in the traditionalist movement publicly apologized to the pope and said William had been disciplined and ordered to remain silent on political or historical issues.
But Wiesel agreed with other Jewish leaders who have said the episode would have long-lasting ramifications in the fight against anti-Semitism.
"One thing is clear. This move by the pope surely will not help us fight anti-Semitism. Quite the opposite," he said. [I cannot see how it is going to stir up anti-semitism either. Were there anti-Jewish riots after Summorum Pontificum or when Pope Benedict changed the Good Friday prayer? I really don’t think Hamas is taking cues from Apostolic Palace either.]
Pope Benedict responds in a general audience:
Before greeting the Italian pilgrims, I still have three announcements.
The first: I have learned with great joy the election of Metropolitan Kirill as new Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias. I invoke upon him the light of the Holy Ghost for a generous service to the Russian Orthodox Church, trusting him to the special protection of the Mother of God
In the homily pronounced on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of my Pontificate, I said that it is the "explicit" duty of the Pastor "the call to unity", and, commenting upon the Gospel words regarding the miraculous catch of fish, I said, "although there were so many, the net was not torn"; I continued after these Gospel words, "Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn!". And I continued, "But no – we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity you have promised. Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with him: yes, Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!"
Precisely in the accomplishment of this service of unity, which qualifies, in a specific way, my ministry as Successor of Peter, I decided, a few days ago, to grant the remission of the excommunication in which the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, without pontifical mandate, had incurred. I fulfilled this act of fatherly mercy because those prelates repeatedly manifested to me their deep suffering for the situation in which they found themselves. I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by the solicitous effort by them to accomplish the ulterior steps necessary to accomplish full communion with the Church, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council.
The third announcement.
While I renew with affection the expression of my full and unquestionable solidarity with our brothers receivers of the First Covenant, I hope that the memory of the Shoah leads mankind to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man.
May the Shoah be for all a warning against forgetfulness, against denial or reductionism, because the violence against a single human being is violence against all. No man is an island, a famous poet write. The Shoah particularly teaches, both old an the new generations, that only the tiresome path of listening and dialogue, of love and of forgiveness lead the peoples, the cultures, and the religions of the world to the hoped-for goal of fraternity and peace in truth. May violence never again crush the dignity of man!